Three Fronts on the War Against Addiction
Many drug users have a drug of choice and believe they know what their body can handle before developing an addiction or suffering a potentially fatal overdose. But as the saying goes, “everything may not be as it seems.” This week we will focus on three different-but-connected topics: vaping, growth in Methamphetamine use, and a new regulator focus on manufacturer policies as contributors to a national epidemic. What connects these topics? The theme for the week is “addiction” and all three of these are linked with that theme.
First up is vaping which continues to gain popularity and has brought the risks of nicotine addiction in the younger generation into focus again. Most e-cigarette companies advertise their product as a tool to help smokers quit, but researchers say vapers are actually likely to cross over to traditional cigarettes. NBC reports that experts fear the high-nicotine content in trendy e-cigarettes may be creating a new generation of tobacco addicts. As an uptick in teenage vaping continues, researchers are studying ways to help this generation avoid a lifelong addiction to nicotine (or worse).
But vaping and its risks are only one challenge faced by those trying to help overcome the threats of addiction. While the opioid epidemic and new concerns over vaping monopolize the public’s attention, the abuse of methamphetamine, also known as meth or crystal meth has discreetly increased and is taking a toll. The Drug Enforcement Administration reports the price of meth is now at its lowest in recent history with street versions that are more than 90% pure — much higher than 10 years ago — and bring increased risks of rapid addiction. Like the opioid epidemic, meth is responsible for a number of overdose deaths or addicted users, taxing medical providers who have few tools to help users survive and recover. Some researchers are focused on delivering those badly needed tools.
While methamphetamines are largely the product of illegal labs, opioids are taking a toll—ironically perhaps—on the businesses who manufacture them. While medical providers are trying to find tools to help combat meth addiction or find ways to discourage vaping by young people, regulators have turned their attention to, and turned the heat up on, opioid manufacturers. One such company, Boston-based Purdue Pharma, is under investigation for fueling the oxycontin addiction problem by deceiving patients and doctors about the risks of opioids. Their tactic of pushing prescribers to keep patients on the drug longer to boost profits have landed them and potentially their distributors in very hot water with regulators and the courts. This is a development worth watching as any disruption in the supply of opioids is almost certain to push users to alternative drugs.
Vaping Is Creating New Addicts
As the popularity of vaping continues to grow, new statistics show a troubling trend with teenager addiction riding a new wave to new “highs”.
Can Meth Addicts Be Helped?
Can researchers create a tool that can help to decrease the number of methamphetamine overdose deaths and new addicts in the face of rising use?